Students must complete at least one semester of any Department Seminars prior to taking their oral examination. This is typically done in the third year of study.
Dissertation Prospectus and Oral Examination
Students are encouraged to begin discussing possible dissertation topics with appropriate faculty members at an early stage. After completing the written field examinations, students choose a faculty member to serve as adviser on developing a dissertation topic involving significant and original research, and to supervise writing of a prospectus. The prospectus describes the research to be conducted, the techniques to be used, and initial findings. Students who cannot find an adviser on their own will be matched with a preliminary adviser at the beginning of the third year of study.
When the prospectus is approved by the faculty adviser, an oral examination is scheduled. The examining committee consists of four faculty members who conduct an oral examination based on the student's areas of specialization and on the dissertation prospectus. A primary function of the oral examination is to aid the student in developing a dissertation and to determine whether the student is sufficiently prepared to complete original research successfully.